Take the ultimate intelligence test

Illustration for article titled Take the ultimate intelligence test

You might think it's obvious that one person is smarter than another. But there are few more controversial areas of science than the study of intelligence and, in reality, there's not even agreement among researchers about what this word means.


Click here to go straight to the ultimate intelligence test.

Unlike weight and height, which are unambiguous, there is no absolute measure of intelligence, just as there are no absolute measures of honesty or physical fitness.

Nonetheless, over the decades, legions of scientists have devised tests that can show that one person is smarter than another just as surely as Olympic events can shed light on how much you can lift or how far you can jump.

Now my team at the UK Medical Research Council's Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge has come up with the ultimate test of intelligence.

Like many researchers before us, we began by looking for the smallest number of tests that could cover the broadest range of cognitive skills that are believed to contribute to intelligence, from memory to planning.

But we went one step further. Thanks to recent work with brain scanners, we could make sure that the tests involved as much of the brain as possible – from the outer layers, responsible for higher thought, to deeper-lying structures such as the hippocampus, which is involved in memory. Here's a longer explanation of the theory and evidence that we used when devising the tests.


The result is a set of tests that probe what might be called your 12 pillars of wisdom. In all, they take about half an hour to complete. Now we've teamed up with New Scientist and the Discovery Channel to give you the chance to take the test for yourself.

Do take part! You can see how sturdy your pillars are. And you will help us to place the concept of intelligence on a firmer footing.


Click here to take the 12 Pillars of Wisdom Test

Find out more about the Anatomy of the Brain on Discovery

Find out more about how the test was devised

Adrian Owen is a senior scientist at the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, UK


This post originally appeared on New Scientist.


James Whitbrook

Ouch, my poor brain! I got:

Task 1: 11.0, in the top 1.5%

Task 2: 13.0, in the top 56.4%

Task 3: 39.0, in the top 18.3%

Task 4: 9.0, in the top 58.1%

Task 5: 7.0, in the top 16.9%

Task 6: 150.0, in the top 6.2%

Task 7: 103.0, in the top 69.8%

Task 8: 8.0, in the top 28.4%

Task 9: 22.0, in the top 50%

Task 10: 5.0, in the top 50%

Task 11: 69.0, in the top 20%

Task 12: 9.0, in the top 22.8%

Which I suppose makes me a bit above average intelligence. Huzzahs!